Deciding how to market a business used to be simple. Your choices were direct mail, television, magazine, radio or billboard advertising. Now, choosing how to spread your brand can feel something like entering a vibrant street marketplace that’s teeming with colors and sounds and fascinating new things to try.

It does seem as if there’s always some bright and shiny new tool to attract our attention as marketers. But far too often we experience mixed results. Some businesses shine on Pinterest, for example, while others see pallid results. Some companies still funnel leads from Facebook, where others are floundering.

But amid the din, one tool has emerged as a channel that consistently brings excellent results: email. Carefully planned and skillfully executed, an email marketing campaign can garner a steady supply of qualified leads.

Why Email Still Works So Well for So Many

  • Email is relatively non-invasive. Assuming you have not employed any unsavory tactics when building your list, the individuals on that list have given you permission to appear in their in-box (in the form of an email, of course.) This places you in a privileged position. Take care to use it wisely and you can steadily build a relationship with the subscriber—a relationship in which you become to your readers a trusted authority in your field.
  • Email gives you the advantage of familiarity. When subscribers regularly see your company name in their inbox—even if they don’t open every email you send—they become acquainted with you and your company on a more personal level that cannot be attained with other forms of marketing. Since your subscribers have opted in, giving you permission to market to them, your message may not be as easily overlooked or disregarded as a banner ad, for example. But if their eyes do happen to land on one of your banner ads…well, there’s that familiarity again.
  • An email campaign affords multiple opportunities. You can up-sell by suggesting products or services you believe your customers will appreciate. You can ask for referrals, which your subscribers can be confident in giving, knowing as they do the value that your company provides.

Keys to Email Empowerment

Every business is different, of course, and your email campaign will be unique to your value proposition. There are, however some universal guidelines that you can apply and use to build a successful email marketing campaign.

Establishing a list and blasting out a spate of emails will not necessary get the results that you’re hoping for. To keep a list engaged, businesses must provide value always, rather than simply promote their products and services.

While you definitely want to tell subscribers and customers about all the benefits of doing business with your company, you also need make it your mission to provide free knowledge and assistance at every opportunity.

This involves identifying every step, and each touch point that goes into developing a business relationship. And it requires diligent analysis to get into the mind of the prospect at each particular stage.

Once you’ve identified the natural touch points and opportunities, start creating your emails. You might begin with an email that is relevant to the situation; perhaps a welcome note, or a thank you for signing up instructions on what to do next.

Where appropriate, conclude your emails with a call to action and a brief statement that re-iterates, in a friendly manner, the value the subscriber will receive by taking such action. Vary the wording of your call to action. If  you create a tagline that is exactly the same, it will “disappear” to the reader who views the exact same line at the end of every email you send.

Be sure to regularly offer value. This can come in many forms; white papers, expert tips, free services or special discounts. Also be alert to opportunities for an up-sell, but always maintain a friendly and helpful manner, avoiding a hard sell.

Pulling It All Together

The most successful marketers integrate their email and telemarketing campaigns. If your initial contact with a lead is over the phone, send a follow-up email thanking them for their time. You can use this email to re-cap the benefits of working with your company, and invite the prospect to take the next step. If your first contact was via email, ask for a phone appointment. You can even use email as a friendly follow-up to your voice mail message.

Your copywriters should work closely with sales and marketing managers to analyze what works and make adjustments as needed. Carefully analyze the steps that led the individual to the place they happen to be in the sales cycle at each juncture. The team can then use these findings to determine exactly what information or motivation will take your prospect to the next step.

Creating an effective email campaign is a dynamic process that requires continual testing and tweaking. If a certain email in a series is getting little response, go back and add some sparkle to the subject line or infuse impetus into your call to action. For example, after reviewing the results of a particular campaign, you might go back and re-work the subject lines to capture more attention, or add a personalized post-script from the sales rep, inviting the prospect to contact them by phone or email.